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Maureen Connett May 2020 in Alexandra Park

Passed or failed? Ten watercolours

The Coronavirus Pandemic was a test which I failed – and I succeeded. I failed: I drank too much wine, did not clean my flat from top to bottom, did not catch up with my reading, did not practise yoga, nor sort out surplus clothing for the charity shops. Artist and writer Maureen Connett tells us what she did do in lockdown.

Maureen Connett May 2020 in Alexandra Park

I succeeded in starting to paint in watercolour again after a few years when I became weary of it. The weather was glorious for days with brilliant blue skies. I had been reading about van Gogh’s time in Arles, when he painted fourteen blossom trees in ten days. That morning I heard a good reading of Housman’s ‘Loveliest of trees, the cherry now‘, which I had learned by heart when I was ten.

The white blossom was a wonderful sight in Alexandra Park. I was particularly struck by the cherry tree which leaned over at an extreme angle. I made a fairly good job of it  – enough to justify the rigmarole of getting my painting gear in place. People can be obtrusive, but the social distancing worked in my favour.

Maureen Connett May 2020 in Alexandra Park

Then I wanted to try to capture the birch trees in the Peace Garden.  Their graceful and delicate form and fresh green foliage was a relaxing subject. What I noticed was that several people looked from my picture to the subject itself, as if they needed a reminder of the beauty on show.

At the other end of the Park, there is a pink blossomed tree. It was more difficult to paint there, because it is a popular spot, with dogs and children milling about. I found I could use a whole bench in the shade and spread out my paints. Nobody disturbed me.

It was obvious to me that we all need open green spaces and a car-free environment. This is a lesson that the Pandemic has taught us.

Maureen Connett

These A E Housman poems were set to music by Nobuya Monta and sung by baritone Andrew Mayor, accompanied by Notiko Ohnishi on piano. The next Hastings International Composers’ Festival is scheduled for September 2021.

Maureen Connett May 2020 in Alexandra Park

A. E. Housman – 1859-1936

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

 

 

Maureen Connett May 2020 in Alexandra Park

Into my heart an air that kills

From yon far country blows
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

 

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

 

 

 

Maureen Connett May 2020 in Alexandra Park

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a lightfoot lad.

By brooks too broad for leaping
The lightfoot boys are laid;
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.

 

 

 

Maureen Connett May 2020 in Alexandra Park

Is my team ploughing,
That I was used to drive
And hear the harness jingle
When I was man alive?”

Ay, the horses trample,
The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
The land you used to plough.

“Is football playing
Along the river shore,
With lads to chase the leather,
Now I stand up no more?”

Ay the ball is flying,
The lads play heart and soul;
The goal stands up, the keeper
Stands up to keep the goal.

Maureen Connett  May 2020 in Alexandra Park

“Is my girl happy,
That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
As she lies down at eve?”

Ay, she lies down lightly,
She lies not down to weep:
Your girl is well contented.
Be still, my lad, and sleep.

“Is my friend hearty,
Now I am thin and pine,
And has he found to sleep in
A better bed than mine?”

Yes, lad, I lie easy,
I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart,
Never ask me whose.

Maureen Connett, painted May20 in Alexandra Park

Posted 13:16 Friday, Jun 5, 2020 In: Hastings People

18 Comments

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  1. Paul English

    Gorgeous.

    Comment by Paul English — Thursday, Jul 2, 2020 @ 11:06

  2. Wendy English

    Hello Maureen.
    Loved this. Nature has been really important to me and so many others during this and I’ve dipped back into poetry books too. This was a perfect combination.
    Thanks!

    Comment by Wendy English — Wednesday, Jul 1, 2020 @ 22:11

  3. Heather Smith

    Wonderfully uplifting paintings of these beautiful trees. I love the poems too.

    Comment by Heather Smith — Tuesday, Jun 16, 2020 @ 22:26

  4. Fran Lea

    Beautiful paintings and thanks for sharing them. An amazingly resourceful way to spend the lockdown.

    Comment by Fran Lea — Sunday, Jun 14, 2020 @ 16:38

  5. Lesley Workman

    Beautiful paintings Maureen and beautiful words to accompany them. The world stops but the trees still blossom. Creativity lives through artists like you x

    Comment by Lesley Workman — Saturday, Jun 13, 2020 @ 23:15

  6. Irene

    Lovely article Maureen, a fascinating insight into someone’s lockdown experience.
    Beautiful watercolours

    Comment by Irene — Saturday, Jun 13, 2020 @ 17:50

  7. Sharon

    Lucky you, Maureen, to have made such good use of this strange moment. Your painting style is unique or maybe it’s because I don’t know this park? They both must be beautiful in real life.

    Comment by Sharon — Saturday, Jun 13, 2020 @ 16:56

  8. Helen Lea

    Beautiful watercolours. and poems too. I admire your work – especiallyin these times when it is even harder to motivate oneself to create. Congratulations and thank you for sharing.

    Comment by Helen Lea — Saturday, Jun 13, 2020 @ 16:03

  9. Carol Walker

    Hello Maureen, I’ve missed seeing you at Singing for Fun and Tune Up Tuesdays. I love your watercolours. You have captured the colours and spirit of Spring so well. Hope to see you before too long.

    Comment by Carol Walker — Friday, Jun 12, 2020 @ 10:57

  10. Herbie Lea-Bramble

    Very nice paintings indeed. You succeeded for sure!

    Comment by Herbie Lea-Bramble — Thursday, Jun 11, 2020 @ 16:51

  11. Harvey Lea-Bramble

    Great paintings Maureen, nice to see you making use of the social distancing situation.

    Comment by Harvey Lea-Bramble — Wednesday, Jun 10, 2020 @ 14:24

  12. Tray Kane

    Your paintings are absolutely beautiful, I am a frequent user of the park and I’m sure I recognise some of the trees. I really enjoyed the blossoms too, they are a favourite of mine.

    Thank you so much for sharing, you have a wonderful talent. I wish I could paint. I did however, teach myself Yoga. I recommend!

    Comment by Tray Kane — Wednesday, Jun 10, 2020 @ 11:37

  13. Linda Graham

    Your Paintings are so fresh and lovely. The poems I have always loved too.

    Comment by Linda Graham — Monday, Jun 8, 2020 @ 15:20

  14. Michael Gould

    Beautiful lines so well accompanied by great paintings. Thank you.

    Comment by Michael Gould — Sunday, Jun 7, 2020 @ 23:20

  15. Paula Hesmer

    Beautiful paintings. Beautiful poems. Well done.

    Comment by Paula Hesmer — Saturday, Jun 6, 2020 @ 18:17

  16. Bernard McGinley

    What a very cheering article and pictures. The Lockdown has benefits after all.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Saturday, Jun 6, 2020 @ 14:00

  17. Nicky Mehdi

    What a beautiful set of pictures! Lovely to see them with the poems. Thank you for sharing them.

    Comment by Nicky Mehdi — Saturday, Jun 6, 2020 @ 08:55

  18. Nel

    Lovely piece, thank you so much!

    Comment by Nel — Friday, Jun 5, 2020 @ 19:09

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